Missouri's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose slightly during December to 3.4% from a 3.2% level in November. This rate is 0.6 percentage points higher than December of 1999. The national unemployment rate remained steady at 4.0%. Three of Missouri's neighboring states had lower unemployment rates during the past month. These include Iowa (2.5%), Oklahoma (2.7%), and Nebraska (2.8%).
Overall, Missouri's labor force decreased slightly during December. The state's seasonally adjusted labor force of 2,957,090 is 5,067 lower than November's levels. However, this figure is 41,141 greater than the December 1999 labor force.
Unemployment levels are not distributed evenly across Missouri, with pockets of high unemployment persisting in several areas (county-level rates are not seasonally adjusted). Counties with the highest levels of unemployment continue to be clustered in three main regions: (1) Southeast Missouri; (2 the Lake of the Ozarks; and (3) the north central counties along U.S. Highway 36. Ten counties had unemployment rates that were 7.0% or higher:
Linn (7%), Reynolds (7.2%), Douglas (7.3%), Iron (7.5%), Hickory (7.7%), Mississippi (7.8%), Washington (7.8%), Wright (7.8%), Pemiscot (7.9%), and Wayne (8.1%).
Conversely, there are several pockets of very low unemployment, which are located in the metropolitan areas of the state and in northwest Missouri. Seven counties had unemployment rates that were 2.0% or lower: Boone (1.1%), Nodaway (1.3%), Cole (1.7%), Clay (1.8%), Platte (1.8%); Atchison (2.0%), and St. Charles (2.0%).
Chart 1. Unemployment Rates,
Seasonally Adjusted, 1999-2000.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor
Map 1. Unemployment Rates, Seasonally Unadjusted, December 2000.
Source: Labor Market Information, Missouri Department of Economic Development